The coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, which has hit financial systems across Africa, is likely to deteriorate banks’ balance sheets. The largest threat to banks pertains to their loan portfolios, since many borrowers have faced a sharp collapse in their income, and therefore have difficulty repaying their obligations as they come due. This could lead to a sharp increase in nonperforming loans (NPLs) in the short to medium term.
Declining commodity prices during mid-2014-2016 posed significant challenges to commodity-exporting economies. The severe terms of trade shock associated with a sharp fall in world commodity prices have raised anew questions about the viability of pegged exchange rate regimes. More recently, the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures needed to contain its spread have been associated with a significant disruption in several economic sectors, in particular, travel, tourism, and hospitality industry, adding to the downward pressure on commodity prices, a sharp fall in foreign exchange earnings, and depressed economic activity in most commodity exporters. This paper reviews country experiences with different exchange rate regimes in coping with commodity price shocks and explores the role of flexible exchange rates as a shock absorber, analyzing the macroeconomic impact of adverse term-of-trade shocks under different regimes using event study and panel vector autoregression techniques. It also analyzes, conceptually and empirically, policy and technical considerations in making exchange rate regime choices and discusses the supporting policies that should accompany a given regime choice to make that choice sustainable. It offers lessons that could be helpful to the Caribbean commodity-exporters.
Growth momentum in sub-Saharan Africa remains fragile, marking a break from the rapid expansion witnessed since the turn of the millennium. 2016 was a difficult year for many countries, with regional growth dipping to 1.4 percent—the lowest level of growth in more than two decades. Most oil exporters were in recession, and conditions in other resource-intensive countries remained difficult. Other nonresource-intensive countries however, continued to grow robustly. A modest recovery in growth of about 2.6 percent is expected in 2017, but this falls short of past trends and is too low to put sub-Saharan Africa back on a path of rising living standards. While sub-Saharan Africa remains a region with tremendous growth potential, the deterioration in the overall outlook partly reflects insufficient policy adjustment. In that context, and to reap this potential, strong and sound domestic policy measures are needed to restart the growth engine.